But for me, the breathlessness lasts only a few minutes before the repetitive passing of each gorgeously decorated boat numbs my brain — and that's without the assist of any liquid Christmas cheer.
I soon find myself looking at my watch and thinking glumly, "Oh, holy night! I have to endure this for two more hours? I've got to find some eggnog — fast!"
If you think that makes me Newport-Mesa's version of Scrooge, hold onto your mistletoe. I haven't even gotten started.
Even the event's official title — the 102nd annual Christmas Boat Parade — doesn't quite sit right with me. It's not because organizers haven't yet exchanged "Christmas" for "Holiday" in a fit of political correctness. It's the "102nd annual" part because the calculation is more than a little bit off. Here's the back story.
The "Illuminated Water Parade" — as it was first called — started on the evening of July 4, 1908, when John Scarpa, an Italian gondolier, and Joseph Beek, one of Newport's founding fathers, put together a rag-tag, nine-boat procession lit by Japanese lanterns. It was said to be America's first lighted boat parade.
Since then, the parade has missed several years, during World War I and in the late 1940s when the police and fire officials believed the then-summer event attracted too many visitors to Newport's already crowded streets.
The current shift to a Christmas-season boat parade had its beginnings in 1946, when city employees decorated a barge during the holidays and brought carolers — mostly children — aboard to serenade residents on the bay front.